June 30, 2016

EL MAC in Morocco

I spent a couple weeks in Morocco recently to paint some small murals as part of the Igloo Hong project (along with an all star team of artists including David Choe, Andrew Hem, Aaron Horkey, Mars 1, Esao Andrews, & DVS1)

The first mural, painted in Agdz (southeastern Morocco), is outside the Casbah des Arts, and is a portrait of Mohamed Ait El Caid ( محمد ايت القيد ). He is a 92 year old man who lives next door to the mural. He is a respected local figure, who once had the first radio in Agdz and would also receive foreign newspapers so he could share the news with local residents. I was impressed with his willingness to be photographed and painted by a strange foreigner 
The second mural, also in Agdz, is based on images of my cat, and is painted on a centuries-old mudbrick kasbah. One can clearly see a great appreciation for cats throughout Morocco. There is a story about the Prophet Muhammad having such affection for cats that he once cut off the sleeve of his robe so as to not disturb his cat, Muezza, who was sleeping on it. Agdz also means 'resting place', so painting a sleeping cat seemed appropriate.
The third wall is further east in Merzouga, at the edge of the Sahara, near the border with Algeria. Andrew Hem painted the background designs for this one. It is based on my photos of Hssain Ahnana ( حساين اهنانا ) who comes from a lineage of Sahrawi nomads and now owns the camping ground (Secret du Sahara) where the mural was painted. He is painted wearing his 'cheche', which is a traditional indigo-dyed head wrap worn by indigenous North African Amazigh/Tuareg/Berber people for protection from the harsh sun and sand. The Tuareg have been known as the 'blue men of the desert' for this. 
Having grown up primarily in another desert (Sonoran) on the other side of the planet, it was fascinating to come to the Saharan Desert and see some of the environmental and cultural parallels, along with the local adaptations for desert life. I hope to make it back someday.

Many thanks to the good people of Morocco, the David Young Choe Foundation + the Igloo Hong team: Dave, Matt, Jy-Ah, Karim, Jason, Paco, Steve, Soufian, and everyone/anyone else that helped out. 

Photos by me except:
2,10-12 by Matt Revelli
6,16 by Dave Choe
9 by Jy-Ah Min
13,15,21 by Paco Raterta